Berkeley high student sues school district in federal court

Lilah v. Anthony Smith, Superintendent Bill Huyett and the Berkeley Unified School District »

Read the lawsuit filed April 18

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A female Berkeley High School student is suing the Berkeley Unified School District in federal district court for allegedly failing to adequately take action against her former high school counselor, who allegedly made "unwelcomed sexual advances" toward her over the course of four months in 2009 and 2010.

In April 2010, the student claimed that counselor Anthony Smith had acted inappropriately toward her a number of times while the two were alone together. She said that Smith had, on different occasions, caressed her thighs, spanked her on her buttocks, put his face in her chest and asked her if she slept naked.

The student's parents obtained a restraining order for their daughter against the counselor on Sept. 2, 2010. After an investigation, the district informed her that it would "be taking appropriate personnel action." Smith is still currently employed at the high school.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, protects the student plaintiff's identity with the fictitious name Lilah and names Smith, district superintendent Bill Huyett and the district itself as defendants. In addition to stating grievances against Smith, it accuses the district of failing to respond promptly and appropriately to Lilah's allegations.

According to the lawsuit, Lilah still feared that she would encounter Smith at school, despite reassurances from the high school's vice principal and the district assistant superintendent for human resources that she would be reassigned to a new counselor on a floor above Smith's office.

District spokesperson Mark Coplan declined to comment, saying the district never comments on matters currently in litigation.


Jeffrey Butterfield is the lead local schools reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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